Critical Thinking

Consciousness is simply awareness. The world that we currently live in is attempting to suppress our awareness to unprecedented low levels through various means both intentional and unintentional.

Become independent of space and time – This is rather difficult to achieve, particularly as you get older. It essentially means that you decouple your thoughts from your environment as much as possible. Most animals have fully developed brains by the time they leave the womb, however humans’ brains continue to develop after birth up until about 25. Therefore a human’s environment has gigantic effects upon our thinking. It is never possible to fully separate your thoughts from your environment but, by assessing various biases you may have, logical fallacies that exist, common psychological defense mechanisms that humans employ, and how your environment may have effected you, it is possible to achieve some level of separation. Some people claim some kind of enlightenment which is akin to this through various psychedelic drugs such as Ayahuasca or LSD.

There are other important attributes that will affect how easily you gain consciousness, and also how effective your consciousness is from then on:

Logical thought processes – This is closely related to science/engineering-like thinking. For example being aware of assumptions that you are making as you progress along a chain of thought (especially at the start!), assessing results of these thoughts in probabilities rather than saying you are 100% correct or 100% incorrect in every case (don’t try give it a number, just a title such as ‘unlikely’, ‘very likely’, etc), re-visiting conclusions you previously made and updating them based on new information. This is difficult because you must accept uncertainty, but the more time you spend thinking independently and comparing the results with reality the better you will get at assessing probabilities.

Imagination – An amazing trait we possess is to be able to come to a conclusion we consider very likely based on imperfect information. This trait is possibly the most important of all and in my opinion is most effectively nurtured by interacting with fiction (books, games, television, music, art etc) made by others, and by also creating your own fiction. Non-fiction that you find very interesting may have a similar effect such as the physics of the universe. Another way of putting imagination in a practical context is: extrapolating to a conclusion based on the information you currently have.

People who have these attributes, will most likely find themselves interested in philosophy or physics. This is because Physics satisfies these attributes by attempting to explain how our physical space operates (and often non-physical spaces!). For instance, a young person who questions reality: ‘why is the sky blue, why does stuff fall towards the earth when I drop it’ etc and refuses to accept an answer such as ‘that is the way the world works’, will most likely end up there. This is an example of consciousness being directed into a particular field of thought. Although unintentional, this has a very detrimental impact upon the world. As I mentioned there are various means employed to suppress our consciousness, but even if you are able to hang on to yours, you will be directed towards physics, which questions the existence of the universe and its laws; as opposed to the existence of human society and its laws, which, I would argue is far more important. Simply because if human society does not function in an appropriate way, it allows no time or resources (especially if human society does not exist at all) to study the universe. And this can be said for any attempt to do anything; when people are dying of hunger due to a malfunctioning society, there is little priority for philosophy or restricting carbon emissions.

Other attributes:

Empathy – Well, hopefully you have this already and if you don’t: I really hope you develop it through reflection. Otherwise we have a conscious psychopath on our hands, which is possibly how the world got into a mess in the first place. Empathy is very closely tied to Imagination; particularly using this definition: extrapolating to a conclusion based on the information you currently have. This obviously only works if you have information on the topic in the first place, otherwise you cannot extrapolate from it. For instance in the case of emotional pain, if you have had a very ‘happy’ life so far and the worst thing that has happened to you is that your favourite £5000 suit got ruined, you may have difficulty extrapolating from this when considering what it feels like to be betrayed by someone you love. Pains must also be accounted for in how long they occur over, for example: if you were anal fed stuff by the CIA it would constitute extreme discomfort (physical and psychological) over a short period of a time, whereas someone may work in an unfulfilling job that they hate and be forced to do this for their entire life. People tend to see the first as far worse and the latter well… normal. But I would argue the second is far worse as you are essentially surviving, not living, and you are given no time to recover from any depression that may build up at a slow rate over time. It is a long-term form of psychological torture. If you consider yourself to have a reasonable information base to extrapolate from, and a good imagination, but you still can’t quite imagine how a certain situation feels (e.g. death of your hypothetical child) then to put it simply: the pain of that situation is unimaginable and should be feared.

Curiosity and humility are also important enhancing traits of awareness.

Knowledge

Knowledge can be classified into four distinct categories:

  • Known-Knowns: Knowledge that you are aware that you know
  • Known-Unknowns: Knowledge that you are aware that you don’t know
  • Unknown-Unknowns: Knowledge that you are not aware that you don’t know

A way to represents these diagrammatically is shown below, where the white is current knowledge, the grey is where we are researching and beyond that is the vast expanse of the unknown. As knowledge is gained the circle expands, having a larger perimeter and hence a larger amount of Known-Unknowns, a potentially infinitely increasing cycle.

Knowledge

You may have noticed that i said there were four distinct categories, but have only put three on the diagram. That is because the last one cannot be drawn on the diagram as it is elusive by definition.

Unknowns-Knowns: Knowledge that you are not aware that you know.

This is by far one of the most dangerous forms of knowledge as it affects your every day decision making without you even being conscious of it. Forms of this knowledge are dogma and indoctrination, most of which are picked up in the environment of the society in which you live.

The Guide

There is no guide, you can only do this for yourself through reflection, asking questions and really trying to answer them.

What really bothers you about society (may affect you directly, indirectly or ‘not at all’), did you ever get to the root cause of why it happened? Asking why and actually attempting to answer will help you get to these root causes. If you reach an infinite loop between some options at the end of the why chain, you are probably onto the right track.

While doing this is it important to consider:
Cognitive biases
Psychological defense mechanisms
Logical Fallacies

Introspection Illusion

Enlightening others

The most effective use of your time would be to try to make educators more aware such as university staff, or school teachers as they then incorporate their new awareness into their teaching.
The police and army’s awareness would be essential, however these people will be far more indoctrinated than the average person due to their loyalty to the state and general mentality.

Lectures to multitudes of people would be more effective than doing 1 person at a time.

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